Michael Jackson’s death was big news, but somewhere along the way, the nation’s reaction turned “off the wall.”
The 24/7 media coverage is interpreted by many as a true reflection of Jackson’s importance. But I take the cynical view, believing that the over-the-top coverage is yet another example of profit-driven “infotainment” overshadowing civic-minded journalism. Remember how Anna Nicole Smith’s death was a bigger deal than the surge in Iraq? At least it appeared that way if you watched TV, didn’t it?
No national news outlet wants to give up a vast gossip-driven audience to another organization. So they’ll ride celebrity news beyond its appropriate lifespan, choking it until there’s nothing left to squeeze, repeating themselves until enough people are finally too bored or nauseated to tune in — or until another spectacle bumps it aside.
Jackson surely deserved a level of fame. He was the sharpest dancer many of us have ever seen. His songs were catchy. He could really sing.
Of course, Jackson seemed to take on a more ghoulish look the older he got, as if he aimed to get back to his Thriller video as an extra. The bizarre outward appearance seemed to reflect a twisted inner self, one that both sought spectacle and hid from it. He was a strange character that few people, if anyone, really knew. He invited boys to sleep in his bed. And I don’t care how you spin it, that’s weird and very troubling, the first thing that comes to my mind now when I hear his name.
But when I look at the hype surrounding his death, I don’t think people are mourning Jackson as much as they are celebrating fame itself. Jackson held a dysfunctional relationship with fame. And I think this country does too.
Much of the nation glorifies fame more than anything else, seeing the attention of a big audience as the ultimate affirmation in life, whether the fame is well-earned or not.
People will gladly humiliate themselves just to get in the spotlight. If someone from TV comes our way, they hold a certain aura. They may not be a decent person at all. They may be quite terrible. But if they are touched with stardom, they hold something we don’t have. And we have a basic envy of them. The fame is the first thing we see. And I believe for many, it’s the only thing they see. Any flaw in that star’s persona is overshadowed by the aura of fame. If we can get in on that glow, we don’t care if it gets us dirty. Just get in on it. Wow, fame! I touched it.
We might not have really known what Michael Jackson was, but we knew one thing for sure: he was famous, probably more famous than anyone on the planet in my lifetime, save maybe Elvis.
What does that fame mean?
Not much to some.
Everything to others.
We live in a world that elevates stars to a point of perversion, while often ignoring and taking for granted those around us who shine out of the spotlight.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.
Well, I'm happy to say that I found your "opinion" well put and I agree with you. Unfortunately over the years I have found myself at the other end of the spectrum, as I find your articles very one sided depending on how influential the person you're writing about is or how fearful you are to ruffle feathers.
It's a true shame how fame, living life through someone "better" and the almighty dollar has consumed our society. What happened to SELFconfidence, SELFworth, SELFrespect? It's time to be grateful, compassionate & to get a grip on what really matters in life. Like Michael Jackson, Anna Nicole & many others, it can end in a flash.
You asked..."What happened to SELFconfidence, SELFworth,
SELFrespect? This is the main problem with mainstream americans!
Self...Self...Self...I ask "What happened to living life according
to biblical principles?" Its not about us or the Elvis' and Michaels'
of the world...its about Jesus!What he did for us and why he did it!
...You can have all the fame and fortune in the world and it
will do you no good when you take that last breath...But if you
believe in Jesus and give your life to him, fame and fortune
and things of this world doesn't matter anymore...your last breath
will be peaceful, even welcoming for the better things to come.
I agree its time to be grateful, compassionate & to get a
grip on what really matters in life...Are we ready to meet God?